This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.
In the 1950’s, when most surfboards were still made out of heavy balsa wood, Hobie Alter and Gordon Clark teamed up to experiment with new shaping materials in Alter’s Dana Point store.
“Hobie was making the most surfboards at that time,” recalls Kris Carlow, Hobie’s Brand Manager, in our latest episode of Surf Shop Chronicles. “But in ’58, along with Grubbie [Gordon] Clark, they decided to halt surfboard production and just R&D foam. For a full year, Hobie didn’t make surfboards.”
And we all know what happened next. The polyurethane blanks Alter and Clark produced left balsa in the dust, became the industry standard and changed both surfboard performance and surfboard manufacturing forever. They weren’t the first to produce a foam blank, but they did perfect their production and ushered in a new era of surfboards.
As impressive as that fact is, it’s only just the beginning of Hobie Surf Shops storied history in Dana Point and beyond. Click play above to learn more about one of the most iconic shops and recognizable brands in surfing history.